Summary: What does it take to be a true friend? What are the characteristics of a true friend? See how Jesus is your best friend ... the best friend you could ever have.
INTRODUCTION: Friends are wonderful things to have … AMEN? When I was over at Lisa Mathew’s house this week, I couldn’t help notice all the “friends” she had. That’s one of the blessings of growing up in a small community. You have friends that you grew up with … friends you went to school with … friends you are related to … life-long friends. Being in the ministry for so many years, and moving away from my hometown, I’ve lost contact with my childhood friends. There’s something to be said for living where you grew up.
There’s something to be said for having lots of “friends”. This morning, we are going to take a look at what the Scriptures say about “friends”.
There are different types of friends … different CLASSIFICATIONS. See if you recognize them in your life.
1.- Acquaintances – People you know (but maybe can’t always remember their name) … YET … you say “Hi” to them whenever you see them at Wal-Mart or the Post Office or Bank.
2.- Casual Friends – You see them more often than acquaintances, usually at the same place every time. You have common interests. Maybe you’re in the same club … on the same committee … your children are friends … you see them at church, or school activities.
3.- Close Friends – You visit them at their house … OR …. Invite them over to your house. You go hunting or fishing together. You will sit and talk with them for hours. You enjoy their company, and look forward to seeing them often.
4.- Intimate Friends – Your BEST friend. You can get up-close and personal with them. You can share what’s in your heart … your problems, struggles, goals, joys.
When I began studying this subject, I was amazed at the number of references to “friends” in the Bible.
Remember, last Sunday night, what Jesus called Judas, when Judas came to betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus called him, “Friend”. Judas betrayed that “friendship”, but Jesus was offering His friendship to Judas.
Remember the paralytic man, who was carried by his 4 friends to the house where Jesus was? They tore a hole in the roof to let him down, so Jesus could heal him.
I. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A FRIEND?
II. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A FRIEND?
III. WHO IS YOUR BEST FRIEND?
I. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A FRIEND?
We find a good lesson of “friendship” in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – all turn.
4:9 – When friends work together, you can accomplish twice as much. Listen to what was forbidden under the O.T. law - Deut. 22:10 – “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” WHY was that? BECAUSE … they would be counter-productive … work against each other. That reminds me of 2 Cor. 6:14 – “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
BUT … when FRIENDS work together, much can be accomplished.
• FRIENDS help each other succeed.
• FRIENDS don’t put each other down.
• FRIENDS encourage each other.
FRIENDS work together.
4:10 - Remember the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda? John 5:7 – “The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.” When he needed a “friend”, there was none around.
FRIENDS are there to pick each other up when they fall. Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” When I was growing up, I used to think that his verse meant that a “brother” was born for the purpose of causing you adversity (or so it often seemed in my life!). HOWEVER … I’ve come to realize that this verse means that a friend, a “brother/sister in Christ”, is born (“born-again”) for the purpose of being there for you when adversity comes into your life.
“woe to him that is alone” – Have you ever known anyone who didn’t have any, or many, friends? That’s a lonely life, isn’t it? I can’t imagine not having any real friends. It’s tough to go through life … ALONE … lonely … friendless.
A FRIEND will be there for you, when adversity comes. Someone said that, you can tell if you’ve been successful in life, if you have enough close friends to act as pallbearers at your funeral!
4:11 – It’s a cold, cruel world out there! It’s hard to keep warm, when you’re alone. Like being lost in the woods on a cold night, a FRIEND can provide “body heat” to keep you alive … for survival. It’s hard to be warm, when you’re alone.